Cold Shooting Haunts Ducks In Defeat

EUGENE, Ore. — A battle for second place in the Pac-12 went to the visitors Saturday, as the Oregon men’s basketball team dropped a 62-56 decision to Washington State before 7,617 fans in Matthew Knight Arena.

The Ducks (16-7, 8-5 Pac-12) shot 36.1 percent on the afternoon, and didn’t make their first three-pointer until there was 8:07 left in the game. They also went 5-of-10 from the free-throw line in the second half, missing out on the chance to knock off a fellow NCAA Tournament bubble team.

“We knew we needed this one,” UO coach Dana Altman said. “It wasn’t a big secret that they’re ahead of us in the NET and tied with us in the Pac-12 standings; we knew we needed it. They came in here winning seven of their last eight games and we knew they were playing really well. We knew we were going to have to play well, and we didn’t play well enough to win.”

Jermaine Couisnard led the Ducks with 16 points before fouling out, and N’Faly Dante had 15 points with 13 rebounds, four steals and three blocked shots. Jadrian Tracey added 10 points and helped limit WSU’s Jaylen Wells to one point in the second half, after Wells made four three-pointers in the first half.

But overall, Altman said, “I don’t think we penetrated and made plays for each other. We took some off-balance ones and guys panicked a little bit trying to win it on their own. But again, the free throws — in a low-scoring game like this, possession by possession, if you get to the free-throw line, they gotta go. … Free throws haven’t cost us for a while but they sure cost us today.”​

How It Happened: The Ducks trailed 29-27 at halftime, but took the lead early in the second half. Dante scored twice and then set up Kwame Evans Jr. for a dunk, a 6-0 run that gave the Ducks a 33-31 lead. It would be short-lived, however, as Oregon didn’t make another field goal until WSU had put together a 10-1 run to lead 41-34.

It was 47-38 when the Ducks put together another 6-0 run — though it could have been more, as it included two missed free throws. The run was capped by a three from Couisnard, Oregon’s first make of the game from behind the arc after eight misses.

Moments later, with WSU up 56-49, Brennan Rigsby made 1-of-2 free throws and then followed with a three-pointer on Oregon’s next trip to make it 56-53. After two WSU free throws followed by three straight empty possessions for each team,Couisnard hit another three to get the Ducks within 58-56 with 47 seconds left. But the UO men didn’t score again, and WSU iced the game from the line.

An elbow jumper from Jackson Shelstad and a basket from Tracey assisted by Shelstad gave Oregon a 4-1 lead in the opening moments of the game. That could be the Ducks’ only lead of the night, other than the brief 33-31 advantage early in the second half.

After Couisnard scored for an 8-8 tie, the Ducks got three straight stops, but followed each with an empty possession. Wells hit his second three of the game for a 13-10 lead, another to make it 16-12 and yet another for a 22-17 advantage. That sparked a 6-0 run for the Cougars to make it 25-17.

It was 29-21 before Oregon closed the first half with six straight points. The half ended with Dante grabbing a rebound on the defensive end, dribbling up the court, seeing a path through the lane and driving all the way to an emphatic dunk to get the Ducks within 29-27 at the break.

Up Next: The Ducks play at Oregon State next Saturday (7 p.m., Pac-12 Network).